The government is being urged by Abta to bring forward a co-ordinated plan for restarting international travel on the day that a 14-day quarantine on international arrivals was imposed.
The plea comes in a letter from the travel association’s chief executive Mark Tanzer to home secretary Priti Patel as more than 500 travel and hospitality businesses under the Quash Quarantine banner joined airlines in seeking legal action against the two-week isolation rule.
Tanzer, who participated in an industry roundtable hosted by Patel last week, reiterated the serious impact quarantine restrictions will have on customer demand for holidays and business trips.
He also highlights the serious knock-on impact the measures will have on the UK economy beyond the wider transport and tourism industries.
Abta highlights the need for government to indicate its criteria for transitioning away from current Foreign Office advice against non-essential overseas travel.
The government must “urgently investigate” travel corridors to establish transport links with countries identified as having appropriate levels of infection risk.
Ministers should also publish the scientific and epidemiological advice that underpins the quarantining policy and which will inform the review due at the end of June.
Abta warns that travel is facing a prolonged period of recovery.
The industry’s ability to bounce back will be dependent on several interlinking factors, including the return of consumer confidence and demand for travel, the establishment of commonly recognised health and safety protocols and support for the travel insurance industry to ensure adequate cover is available to travellers.
This will require a strategic, cross-departmental approach from government.
Tanzer said: “We must restart international travel as soon as it is safe to do so, and businesses and customers would benefit from the government outlining when this is likely to happen.
“There are many livelihoods at stake, and bookings will only start to pick-up in earnest when people and businesses have a better idea as to what the government’s plan is to open up the UK and access to international destinations.
“This is going to take a co-ordinated approach, and Abta will continue to do whatever it takes to assist with this process on behalf of travel agents and tour operators across the UK who are desperate for a clearer direction for travel.
“Of course, safety must absolutely come first, which is why the government also needs to set out clearly the relevant scientific advice and epidemiological factors informing decisions, including the quarantining policy before its review in three weeks.”
The economic contribution of outbound travel amounts to more than £37 billion a year, with travel businesses and their supply chains supporting around 500,000 jobs across the UK.
Given the economic importance of the sector, and the role travel plays in supporting employment, as well as facilitating trade between the UK and overseas partners, it is vitally important the government does all it can to support travel businesses through the current Covid-19 crisis, Abta says.